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Time to redesign event model, says IMEX nature report

For the industry to recover post pandemic, event professionals need to redesign the event model, using principles from nature to become more inclusive and sustainable.

That’s the finding of IMEX’s Nature Research Report: The Regenerative Revolution, a white paper produced in partnership with Global Destination Sustainability Movement, which powerfully states the business case for the events sector to take immediate action on sustainability.

Carina Bauer, CEO of IMEX Group, said: “This report is our effort to bring a fearless conversation to the fore. Its premise is that this natural world, the planet we all call home, is not an endless source of supply. IMEX, like many others, believes now is the time to change our relationship to nature. To think differently about what we take, what we make, what we use and what we do, or don’t, throw away.

“We believe the global meetings and events industry has an important part to play in making these changes. Our industry is full of people who care about people and who care deeply about making event and meeting experiences memorable, valuable and innovative. The leading edge of change is available to all of us and it can start with a few small tweaks in our behaviour, our processes and, above all, our thinking.

“It’s time for us to awaken that intelligence, asking nature how to heal and to learn from its principles of abundance and regeneration. A healthy living system is a prosperous and successful one. I look to a future that offers us all that promise realised by the industry we are all a part of.”

The Regenerative Revolution, A new paradigm for event management is authored by Guy Bigwood, managing director, Global Destination Sustainability Movement. It is free to download now from the IMEX website.

Read this exclusive extract from the report on how Amsterdam electronic music festival DGTL set about becoming the world’s most circular festival…

A supreme example of taking the lead has been the turnaround of the global headline music festival DGTL. Confronting the unsustainable principles of the current festival model, they decided to reposition their electronic music festival as the world’s most circular festival.

To meet this goal, DGTL has fundamentally reimagined and redesigned their event to experiment with the latest technological breakthroughs to eliminate waste, reduce CO2 emissions and increase environmental awareness. Their mission is to use their events as living-labs for future city innovations.

DGTL festival - Courtesy of Jordy Brada

DGTL festival – Courtesy of Jordy Brada

The most important component of their sustainability strategy is the baseline measurement or analysis that they have introduced to understand the resource flows that enter and exit the festival, and the different kinds of impacts these flows have.

This Material Flow Analysis (MFA) quantifies the overall environmental impact through analysis of materials, waste, energy, water, artist, and visitor travel. Using this data, DGTL has been able to answer some key questions about where the festival should focus in order to achieve a circular state, and continue its exemplary efforts in bringing a working model of best practice to the forefront of the festival’s industry.

Reinventing the food experience

Food has an enormous impact on the environment with reports stating that 25 per cent of global greenhouse gas emissions are emitted by the food and agriculture sector – even more alarmingly, of all this food produced a third is thrown away annually. To tackle this issue in their festivals, DGTL decided to reinvent the food experience.

As a first step DGTL in 2018 removed meat from the menu, thereby drastically reducing CO2-emissions and saving large amounts of freshwater and land. In its place local caterers served delicious vegetarian and vegan meals to festival visitors. After finishing their meals, the visitors took their biodegradable plates and food leftovers to the resource collection point.

At the resource collection point, a composting machine converted disposables and leftovers into compost within 24 hours. The compost is then distributed amongst participating urban farmers. The urban farmers use the compost to grow vegetables for the next event. In doing so, DGTL closed the organic material flow, and created zero food-waste.